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​Archbishop brings message of restoration, need for care of people to legal community at Red Mass

November 03, 2020 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: Archbishop, In the Press, Breaking News

Archbishop brings message of restoration, need for care of people to legal community at Red Mass

The celebration of the annual Red Mass gathered the legal community in San Antonio for a blessing during these challenging days of the pandemic and to recognize their special calling and contributions at this time.

“Although our courts were closed for some time last spring, we have found ways of satisfying the needs of our people through technology and mutual cooperation,” Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, told the 90 attendees gathered in San Fernando Cathedral on October 22, with all following social distancing protocols. “I thank you, on behalf of the people, for your fidelity to the law and to the fair and swift resolution of justice.”

The liturgy was held on the memorial of Pope St. John Paul II and the readings from Isaiah and John spoke of bringing good news to the people, of healing, hope, and restoration, and of the responsibility to care for and attend to God’s people.

There can be no doubt that life for the average person has changed rather considerably in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the nation nearly 20 million people remain unemployed or underemployed. Small business owners have lost considerable amounts of income, and even the complete loss of their businesses. Property owners have gone for months without receiving their rent monies, and thousands of families are simply awaiting the day of eviction. Schools have attempted to reopen, but with halting results. Although the death rate has somewhat declined, the infection rate among the people continues to climb.

Archbishop Gustavo addressed the need for careful planning and preparation for a new moment in life in his recent pastoral letter, Transformed by Hope, Let Us Rebuild Our Tomorrow! recognizing that we are in a special crisis at this time .

“While some look for a restoration of the pre-COVID past once the pandemic is controlled, others look to the future with fear and trepidation. A crisis, by definition, is the crossroad between danger and opportunity,” the archbishop explained. “Yes, we are in a dangerous moment, and yes, we have a unique opportunity to reform and renew our lives, both in a personal and societal sense! What we must do, friends, is not waste the opportunity.”

Pope Francis released his letter to the Church and the world, Fratelli Tutti, Italian for “We are all brothers,” (and by implication, sisters) two weeks after Archbishop Gustavo wrote his letter to the faithful.

“These letters are a happy coincidence, and touch on some similar themes,” the archbishop described to the gathered attorneys. “If I may say so, the point is to take this moment in which the world has had to slow down for its own wellbeing to pause, take stock of where we are, and then to make and implement needed change for the common wellbeing of the whole human family!”

He continued, “Simply within our own nation not only have we had to awaken to the health crisis, problems of distribution, and the moral and ethical concerns related to our healthcare system, but we have also been confronted with the historical impact of past and current racism, economic and political exclusion, and the systematic lack of opportunity for so many people within our civic life. We cannot ignore this moment! We cannot let this opportunity for a renewed vision of what can be accomplished today and tomorrow pass us by!”

The San Antonio prelate emphasized that those in the legal and political community bear a special responsibility in this moment to be agents of repair. “Through use of the legal system let us correct past mistakes, offer new opportunities, and help to heal our land!” he stressed. “We cannot allow ourselves to be simply trapped in an adversarial system that can be used to tear us apart!”

The Missionary of the Holy Spirit said that the whole point of human law, from the time of Hammurabi to the present, has been to rebalance and restore social and personal harmony. He called on attendees to bring good news of hope and restoration to the people.

“Let us attend, as good shepherds for the sheep, to the wellbeing of our people by guarding and feeding them properly,” Archbishop Gustavo closed. “Let us not waste this moment, but make of ourselves the needed agents of change, aided by the grace of God!”

Prior to the conclusion of the Mass, a prayer of blessing for legislators, judges, court reporters and court personnel was recited by Chief Justice Sandee Bryan Marion of the Fourth Court of Appeals. A prayer of blessing for attorneys and paralegals was prayed offered by Roland Garcia of the Catholic Lawyers Guild of San Antonio. Lastly, a prayer of blessing for the St. Mary’s University School of Law, faculty, administration, and students was prayed by Thomas Mengler, president of St. Mary’s University, accompanied by Crystal Andrade, president of the Student Bar Association.